Racial Discrimination in the Workplace: What You Can Do
Discrimination in the workplace is an unfortunate but sometimes inevitable experience. One of the most egregious and difficult to deal with can be racial discrimination. Racial discrimination in the workplace can be especially tough to deal with because, while it often is overt and direct, there are more subtle tinges that can rear their ugly head – sometimes without even the knowledge of the offending party.
If you’ve been the victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages incurred on you. In these cases, you can turn to Tampa racial discrimination attorneys Florin Gray Bouzas Owens to take action on your employers and receive justice for your pain and suffering.
Defining Racial Discrimination in Tampa
In its simplest definition, racial discrimination is when an individual is treated differently based on their perceived or actual race. This includes discrimination based on skin color, stereotypes, and any assumptions about abilities or traits.
It’s important to distinguish this from color discrimination, which is encompassed by racial discrimination – but has its own set of specific definitions. Color discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently solely based on pigmentation, complexion, or skin tone. It can occur between those of the same ethnicity or race, but nonetheless falls within the same protections as racial discrimination.
Identifying Racial Discrimination in Florida
Racial discrimination can often be hard to detect because it can be subtle or deeply ingrained in a culture’s social norms. In the workplace, racial discrimination can either be “direct” or “indirect.”
Direct discrimination occurs if your employer specifically targets you based on your race, ethnicity, or nationality – or if you’re associated with someone of a particular race, ethnicity, or nationality. Examples of this include:
- Refusal to employ someone.
- Employing someone, but giving them significantly lower pay and benefits.
- Being fired for your race.
- Withholding any eligible promotions or bonuses due to your race or ethnicity.
Indirect discrimination occurs if your employer has companywide practices or policies in places that specifically disadvantage an entire group of people of the same race, ethnicity, or nationality.
This form of discrimination may seem like a neutral change in policy, but it excludes a large amount of minorities, or puts them at a notable disadvantage in the company.
Something as seemingly harmless as having a “native English speakers only” company policy is a textbook example of indirect racial discrimination. If a prospective employee were to be rejected because he was not a native English speaker (even though he was fluent in English), that would be clear grounds for a racial discrimination suit.
What About Racial Harassment? What’s the Difference?
If not addressed quickly, racial discrimination can quickly turn into racial harassment – any discriminatory behavior towards you that is offensive, humiliating or distressing in any way, simply based on your differences in race, ethnicity, or nationality.
This includes everything from racial slurs and stereotypes, to the display of racially-offensive symbols and racially-charged jokes. Although offhanded or accidentally offensive comments can happen in a workplace, harassment becomes serious when it is frequent and so severe that it causes a hostile work environment.
If you feel like you’re the victim of racial harassment, the good news is that you’re protected under the same laws that protect you from racial discrimination.
Am I Legally Protected Against Racial Discrimination in Tampa?
Fortunately, employees in the United States are legally protected from racial discrimination in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and nationality. That specifically includes discrimination based on:
- Physical characteristics associated with race, such as individual’s color, hair, and facial features
- Culture, such as a person’s name, cultural dress, accent, or grooming practices
- Perception that an individual is a member of a particular race or ethnicity
- Association with persons of a particular race or ethnicity
This protects employees from any workplace actions due to race, such as:
- Failure to hire
- Firing or disciplining an employee
- Paying an employee less
- Failing to provide benefits
- Segregating employees
Title VII covers private employers, state governments, and educational institutions, so long as they employ 15 or more employees. It also covers any employment agencies or unions which control training and apprenticeship,
The state of Florida also has laws prohibiting discrimination of any persons based on their race or nationality. Title XLIV of the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 ensures that all individuals within the state are protected from discrimination, isolation, or exclusion in the workplace due to race, color, national origin, and more.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been the Victim of Racial Discrimination at Work?
If you believe you’ve been unfairly treated and/or harassed at work due to your race or ethnicity, you have the right to file a legal discrimination claim. This occurs in two main steps:
- Gathering evidence of racial discrimination. This is one of the most difficult parts of a discrimination claim, as it can be unclear whether or not race was a true motivating factor in someone’s actions. For example, a potential applicant may be rejected due to race, but the employer could argue it was due to their qualifications. In this case, it is best to record any and all actions that could be interpreted as racial discrimination or comparative treatment – in which you are clearly being treated differently than other employees. A great resource to tap is your coworkers to see if they have similar experiences. A witness statement from one of them could be invaluable to your discrimination claim.
- Filing a claim of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the government entity that handles any claims of discrimination in the workplace, and could go a long way in helping you recover any damages as a result of racial discrimination. You have 180 days from the date of the incident to file a claim, and you must do so by mail or in person.
File Your Discrimination Claim Confidently with Tampa Discrimination Lawyers
While the injustices and pain felt from racial discrimination in the workplace are all too real, proving them in the court of law can seem like an insurmountable task. The least stressful way to ensure you recover the damages you rightfully deserve is to consult an experienced attorney, like one of those from Florin Gray Bouzas Owens. We not only have the experience in employment law to give you the guidance you need, but we also have the resources at hand to make the evidence-gathering process painless on your end. We’ll also handle your EEOC claim so you don’t get bogged down in the red tape of a racial discrimination claim.
We’ll give you peace of mind during this truly troubling ordeal. Contact us today for a free consultation and see if you have a solid case against racial discrimination in the workplace.